BEAUTY IN THE DIRT |
September 05, 2007
BEAUTY IN THE DIRT
Name: Teflon Don
Posting date: 9/5/07
Stationed in: Ramadi, Iraq
Milblog url: actuepolitics.blogspot.com
Last night was beautiful.
Iraqi cities look something like others that I've seen, and the fertile stretches along the river are less impressive than the green farmland back home. The desert, though -- the desert is different. The sky was clear of dust and haze. We were far past the lights of the city, and the stars shone soft and brilliant. The Milky Way stretched out overhead like a band of cotton. I heard bats launch from their hiding places in the abandoned buildings, and shrill aloft on their hunt for food. Somewhere overhead and out of sight, an owl hooted and swooped for his own dinner.
There's a stark beauty in the desert. In the daytime, it seems more harsh than at night. The sun beats the dust bone dry, and the wind drives it with a force that occasionally threatens to rip the body into atoms. The night is more subtle -- the sand cools, and both the sky and ground come alive with predators.
The bats and owls are not the only ones. Once I saw what seemed to be a herd of scorpions moving blackly across the road, pinchers waving. Camel spiders emerge from holes, skittering impossibly fast in search of those same armored denizens. Scattered across the desert are moving dirt bumps that turn into hedgehogs as you approach.
The parched soil rises and falls in abstract patterns laid down over years -- the product of men with earthmovers as much as wind and winter rain. Here and there the lines of hills fall sharply where the dirt has collapsed away to form jagged cliffs; dust pools below the precipice, below the fox holes and lizard lairs.
Somehow, in the midst of the broad, bleak expanse, life continues. The harsh conditions strip away some of the layers of complexity common to other environments. It's a hot-or-cold, night-or-day, life-or-death duality of existence -- the yin-yang of the world.
I find myself enthralled by it.